Alphas "If Memory Serves" Review: Burning Down the House

Alphas S02E11: "If Memory Serves"

As expected, Alphas bounced back in a big way this week after the non-events of last week's sluggish "Life After Death," in preparation to knock us upside the head with a three-episode arc to conclude Season 2. "If Memory Serves" was bloated with material to the point where multiple rewinds were necessary to comprehend everything that was going on, and if I have one complaint about it, it's that all the stories didn't feel balanced and necessary. But the stuff that belonged? It was gooooooood.

What did feel absolutely necessary was Kat and Hicks' recon mission to upstate New York to get intel on one of Parish's outposts. And that's where we met not one, but two very interesting Alphas. The brain-and-brawns situation saw Sean Astin guest-starring as an Alpha named Mitchell with the ability to retain and project memories and his keeper, an Alpha I'll refer to as Beefcake, who had the ability to heal himself no matter how his body twisted and turned.

It was convenient and good writing that the two DCIS members sent out on the mission were having memory problems themselves. Kat (heart x 2) couldn't remember anything more than a month old and Hicks couldn't shake his memories of Dani. Mitchell was used well with both of them, delivering memories of Dani to Hicks to the point where Hicks was just frustrated, and revealing that Kat's lone memory her mother was actually an actress in a cleaning product commercial, in a delightfully sick twist. That's just cold, man. But Mitchell's real value was realized later when we learned he was a walking flash drive filled with Stanton Parish's past.

The natural course of action was then to extract Parish's nefarious world-destroying plans from Mitchell's head, but that's when Alphas pulled another fast one on us. The immortal Parish, who might be having plenty of senior moments given the fact that he's centuries old, used Mitchell as a means to not forget his feelings, the most recent of which was terrible guilt over sacrificing Dani two episodes ago. Thank the lord! Stanton's sudden change into a sociopathic nightmare was exactly what I've been complaining about in the last few weeks. Parish works so much better as a sympathetic villain who believes in a cause and feels for his associates, and this week we saw that he's not entirely the monster he was quickly portrayed as two episodes ago. Yes, plotting to kill millions is monster-ish and I still take issue with that decision, but it was the cold-blooded way he went about it that was the big turn-off. That just didn't fit his character. Can't we just forget that he almost murdered a ton of New Yorkers and get him back to the charismatic, smooth bad guy he was before?

Mitchell also showed Rosen another important detail about Parish's feelings. He's emotionally tied to the farmhouse, which he helped build with his dad and raised his first family in. Put yourself in Parish's shoes; the curse of immortality is that while you stay the same, everything else around you changes. Nothing is stable. But the old farmhouse had been a constant for Parish. So what did Rosen do? He played the cruelty card and burned it down with glee, intent on hitting Parish right where it hurts. It was another fantastic display of darkness by Alphas, and it was especially potent given that it was Rosen lighting the match. Rosen is a complicated man driven by vengeance. As he said earlier in the episode, "My team is dangerous, and so am I." Do not F with this man.

That line above was delivered to Senator Burton (guest-star Lauren Holly) in an attempt to wrap up her storyline. With all the other stuff going on in the series, it's hard to care about Senator Burton, and I'd be incredibly happy if we never heard from her again. Maybe Bill can punch her to the moon or something. But Rosen telling her off was one of this episode's highlights.

Gary got the beefy emotional story this week, as his mom was in a car accident. One of the best single-episode stories of this season was Gary's liberation from his mom and her apartment early on; last night, we saw the beginning of Gary's return home. Once again Ryan Cartwright was fantastic as a confused Gary trying to take in the heavy situation, and the moment between Gary and Bill when the latter explained the situation on simpler terms was heartfelt. But even though it was touching, the story did feel out of place with everything else. Kind of like Rachel's sexcapades last week. I guess we just have to remember that Alphas is very much a character-driven show, and that's why these moments resonate.

After all, emotional balance is what's driving the end of Season 2. We see moments of these characters employing compassion and retaining humanity, but the real fire comes from the rage Rosen and Hicks feel toward Parish. They both appear to be reaching their tipping point, and it will be interesting to see whether they go over the edge.



NOTES

– That opening bit with our team kicking down doors and using various contraptions to render rogue Alphas impotent was great. That was just A-level ass-kicking there. I can't remember why Rosen was so interested in the particular address that led him to the farmhouse, though. I assume that was a detail from an earlier episode?

– Once again there was talk of amplifying Alphas' abilities with Parish's photic stimulators, but until something major happens on that front, the mentions are just there to remind us that the plot still exists. All you need to know is that Parish is looking to make his followers super-duper-powered.

– The decision to make Gary not totally like Kat is really paying off. It keeps them separated, which stretches the comic relief twice as far.

– Kat to Hicks: "Look at you smiling. Don't hurt yourself."


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (31)
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The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire.
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A great episode where Rosen and his team get more dangerous - the whole show, at the same time, evolves into a more serious tone as well. It has become personal, especially for Hicks and Rosen.
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What episode were the scenes of Nina looking at the Senator's brain scans and her apparently decision to get those scans to her neurologist from? I've seen all of the episodes, but I don't remember much of anything about the Senator or her brain after the "GO HOME" push from Nina. Can anyone fill in that blank?
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Was it Episode 8 ? I'm not sure about that though.
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Rosen and Hicks are beginning to scare me. Just saying.
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It's interesting to see Rosen, the moralizer of the show, get totally bad-ass, cold and cruel. And David Strathairn is doing a great job. I loved seeing Kat get into some good action after her training for an agent.

But somehow after those nice-and-slow episodes, I thought this one was maybe a little too fast, a bit all over the place. But maybe that's just me?
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Nope, it wasn't just you.
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The only aspect of the episode I didn't like was the Senator + Nina + Rosen plot. I could care less about the Senator -- I assume the reason for that story is to flesh out Nina, and how it was Rosen's idea to use her the way he did and etc... but I've gotten past that already.

Kat's memory of her mother that ended up being a commercial made me laugh. Not only because of the reveal of the commercial, but Kat's reaction to it: "What the HELL was that?!" Ha! Yes, her pain and confusion makes me laugh.

Also, as usual, Gary was great. Gary + Bill is still my favorite combo on this team, but Kat + Bill was often good as well, and now I like Kat + Hicks too. Bill + Rachel was cute in this episode too. Jeez, either I just really love Gary, Bill, and Kat, or I just don't care much at all for the relationships involving Rosen or Nina.
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Farmhouse address was a Parrish memory in Rosen's head from the kid that mind melded them a few eps back.

Killing off Gary's mom (from the look of it), why? It wasn't like she was a big part of the landscape since Gary moved out anyway. She croaks and Gary finally goes Vader?

While I am not thrilled with the direction that are going with Kat, that character/actress still rule. If I were her, I would find out exactly when and in what markets that commercial aired. It may narrow the field a bit. I would also have Gary run a super DNA match search and birth records in the areas that commercial aired...but that may just be me.
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I've been losing interest in this show since this season started. Didn't think much of it at first, because new seasons often have a lull introducing a new long arc, but it barely pulled me in again, except for Gary Bell and the baby. I thought Sean Astin might draw me back in, but fell asleep again. I'll watch through to this season's finale, so I'll know where I left off should I decide to start watching it again.
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Another good episode of Alphas. Each storyline was played out well to me, including Gary's with her mother in a car crash. Smooth or not, Parrish and Rosen are at war, and every war has its causalties. So the fact that he's killed many people despite his smooth demeanor should not be that surprising or a turn-off. He's a villain and they tend to kill to make points. I really did, however, like bad Rosen burning that house down. Ultra cool and ultra necessary. If there was ever a time for a stand to be made, its now.
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Loved this episode. Gary's storyline hurt to watch but I think it made this episode that much more personal, there was still life going on beyond the big stuff. Still, it's Rosen who kicked the most ass - the almost hippie-esque touchy-feely Dr Rosen threatened a senator to her face when he couldn't get it together to get her on board, and then burned down his enemy's friggin' HOUSE! That's a badass!
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I don't like the direction this show taking right now. it starts to look silly at times (especially in the intro when Kat makin' grin faces and pretendin' a bad ass operative she's so annoyin' sometimes with her desire to kick ass). even if she's good at learning skills it is still implausible to put newcomer civilian (though officially approved by Bill) in the front of action. it is just stupid.

all about parrish is confusing coz of foolish quick decision to kill off Dani 2 episodes ago. now he's compassionate guy. never mind willing to explode many people for not knowing about Alphas? something is off in this show for me. Rosen angry douchebag mood is not relatable at all to me. the way he treated his daughter and now he's all about revenge. he's becoming more unlikeable to me. he's so dumb at times and inadequate when right choice is obvious. and senator plot is important i guess coz it deepens conflict of state and Rosen and his alphas. after ridiculous episode in which Dani died this show becoming more silly and off IMHO
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One more time, then I'll shut up about it for awhile: They're gonna reveal Rosen is one of Parrish's children! It's why the latter was so invested in Dani.



OK. Enough about that.



Loved the episode. For all the complaints that this site's reviews post about "out of place" moments and story angles, you have to admit that the writers have proven a tendency to come back and revisit those elements. ... So stop complaining maybe and see where they take us next? ... This series has not presented us with entirely tidy little episode packages. You should realize that by now and start looking ahead to loose strings.
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Amazing episode! Kat is awesome. Rosen is a hardcore badass and just one step away from completely loosing it. Love it. Have i mentioned haw awesome Kat is? I don't know where your hostility towards the senator comes from. Now if that comes from a general dislike of the government and politicians i would understand. She never interfered with the operations and basically just wants to know that she's not insane. She is totally relatable. The characters are great and the dialogue surpasses most other shows out there. Really loving this show. Kat is awesome. btw, i don't know why but i like the intro more and more every week.
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She was on Parrish's payroll. That is where the righteous indignation came from.

I thought that reveal was done quite well.
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i'm a bit angry looking at her semi mangled artificial face and chest after she was so gorgeous naturally before.
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agreed
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MUST SCREAM THIS! ANY CHANCE THE SITE WILL REVERT BACK TOO SMALLER SPACES BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS FOR THE SAKE OF AESTHETICS!? PLEASE?!
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I agree terminal. It is a pain the ass the remember to type your comments "wrong" so the paragraphs are where you want them. The double carriage return spacing is just whack.
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If you're making comments, double returns between paragraphs aren't needed, and the spacing works out. Now if you're talking about the new style of the articles themselves, I agree. The text is more spaced out, which means more scrolling (1st world problem). My mouse roller is getting tired.
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it did =)
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ah alright i'm going to have to try that thank you for the info! here goes...

did it work?
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I love Kat. And in my opinion best fits that ass kicking woman role and have comedic chops to boot! she's also very cute. Like I said before I really hope they keep her around, it does give more balance with the men / women ratio 4(5 & 6 if you include nate and new white dude) to 3 women. unfortunately I can see having this many characters being hard to juggle but would gladly let any of my favorites take the back burner every other week if it meant for certain they were all sticking around.



as you said; character driven show. I'm personally less concerned about the plot pretty much altogether. though rosen was a badass x2 two this episode with the things you mentioned and parrish is a potentially likable character. (again not really story) bring on the alphas! beefcake was a badass, as was kat's plan to kill him. This episode was my favorite of the season along with kat's introductory episode.
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The more I watch this show, I'm starting to feel like we're seeing the origins of a super-villain storyline with Rosen's character. The writers have never really sold me on the point that Parrish is a bad guy. In fact, I'm really sympathetic to his character (even if that entails blowing up New York City). Rosen's quest for revenge is starting to make me question the ethics behind the choices he makes.
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I agree to some extent and have wanted this on tv/movies for a while. I dont think anyone has the balls or gumption to make a hero-seeming origin story and by the end of it all we've seen the creation/back-story of a super villain,



But back to Alphas, yeah, they have always kept blurring those lines with Rosen and there really have shown some clear times of him manipulating and twisting people as he needs them, as often a character will get pissed at him and remind us of....i.e. he clearly has being doing with Nina's pushing this season. Doesnt mean he's on path to darkside(again, would be awesome) as writers may just may be "showing that lines get crossed by both sides, which is more than likely all they are conveying. Although again, let us not forget he had been locked in an institution and medicated for a year or so when the season kicked off, has been obsessing self righteously about stopping stanton parrish while there, and just lost his daughter who had already been indoctrinated by Parrish.....I did see that look of madness in his eyes while the house was burning and he did just threaten a Senator in a pretty bad ass menacing way. oh, and to those not knowing, that was the point of that story thread, keeps Govt as real thing happening even when we forget, it was part of humanizing Nina and showing how far Rosen will go. It may come back to bite him later or be what gets him more power with a senator in his pocket.
More +
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Every man is the hero of his own story, a well-written villain must have the conviction to believe that what he's doing is best not just for himself but for those he believes in.
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i think that Rosen was interested in the address because he had taken that memory from Parish( in episode 7?).That's how he found out about Danny too.
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I still wonder if Rosen was affected by the baby in last weeks episode. I believe he was and and that his enhanced fatherhood instincts has caused him to go all out after Parish.
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I think the fact that he lost his daughter is enough reason to go all out for Parish!
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Loved this ep, it's great that Kat got some time to shine! During the intro I just stopped all that I was doing and leaned forward to really take it in, fantastic opening. And the burning of the house? Damn, I was whooing at the screen..



Anyone know how it's looking for a third season? It would really suck if this series didn't get to finish.
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